Policy Statement by Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in the German Bundestag „Creating justice in the age of globalization — towards a partnership in responsibility″:
Mr President, Ladies and gentlemen, On 22 September, Social Democrats and Alliance 90/The Greens were given a mandate by the electorate to continue Germany´s social and ecological reform. We have been given a mandate to strengthen public spirit and the readiness to shoulder responsibility, to organize stability and solidarity. We intend to carry out this mandate.
People in Germany know that our economic situation is difficult at present. They are aware of the dangers posed by international terrorism and regional conflicts which threaten our security and our prosperity.
They know that the demographic changes in our population and the changes in our working lives are forcing us to carry out far-reaching reforms in our social security system: they are forcing us to economize and to strive for greater efficiency and justice.
However, they have expressly not decided in favour of dismantling the welfare state, of reducing benefits arbitrarily or of rescinding established employee rights.
They have not granted the new Government a mandate to blindly run up new debts or to place the interests of groups and associations above the common good. We know what the mandate of the people is: we must take responsibility for society as a whole.
What people want and, indeed, rightly expect is a policy which demonstrates our courage to shape the future. A policy which musters the will to bring about change. We will further develop and implement this policy in the next four years.
The development of the international financial and stock markets, the caution of consumers and investors in all major economies, as well as the continued uncertainties on the raw-material and energy markets due to the explosive situation in the Near and Middle East give little cause for hope that the global economy will improve in the short term.
That is why it is all the more important that we strengthen the forces of economic growth and renewal within Germany. The traditional instruments of stimulating consumption and investments through subsidies and financial boosts are no longer available.
For these instruments will have no impact at a time of increasing globalization.
The next stage of the tax reform, which has already been adopted and which we were forced to postpone by one year in order to rectify the unforeseen flood damage, will come into force in early 2004 and will considerably ease the tax burden.
Further tax relief measures will follow. They have already been decided upon for the year 2005 as part of our policy to boost the forces of economic growth.
Precisely because we are continuing this policy of graduated tax reductions it is vital that we examine the expediency and suitability of individual exceptions and subsidies in tax law and, if need be, abolish them.
The savings and cuts agreed upon in the coalition are balanced in themselves. They solely serve to create new leeway for investments in the future, for growth and employment.
Top of the list are the reforms in the labour market and in education. We intend to greatly enhance the quality of education and vocational training, thus helping young people to make a good start in life.
We will promote families and reform the social security system without abandoning the principle of solidarity.
In the sphere of public investments, our priority is to restore and further modernize the infrastructure in the eastern Länder.
We will strengthen the innovative forces in the economy, regardless of whether they are in small, medium-sized or large companies.
For our task must be to maintain and consolidate our position as a leader in research and in the use of new technologies and in ecological modernization.
There is no meaningful alternative to the further consolidation of public budgets. We need investments in the future rather than interest payments. We must not consume today the future which we want to give to our children and grandchildren.
And we need leeway in the budget in order to make provisions for our economy so that we can take countermeasures where necessary.
The Federal Government is sticking to its target of achieving a balanced budget by 2006.
Make no mistake: the stability pact as such is there to stay. However, what we need is to tailor it to the needs of our economy.
Particularly in the current situation, it should be possible to allow the automatic stabilizers to take effect. What we need is greater flexibility in order to take countermeasures in difficult economic situations.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In view of the slowdown in the global economy, which is having a direct impact on economic activity and growth in Germany, we must realize that:
Now is not the time to make ever new demands without being prepared to contribute more. Those who are only concerned with their own interests have not yet understood the situation we find ourselves in.
Those who want stable prosperity, sustainable development and a new level of justice will understand that, in the case of some state benefits, we must be prepared to expect less and that we cannot continue to make ever greater demands on the level of benefits offered by the state and social insurance.
Reform and renewal also involve giving up some of the entitlements, provisions and benefits of the German welfare state.
Some things which date back to the beginnings of the welfare state in the Bismarck era and may have been justified 30, 40 or 50 years ago, have now lost their urgency and thus also their justification.
What the Federal Government has agreed upon is a promising combination of more growth-oriented investments by the state, intelligent cuts and greater honesty and fairness within the tax system.
There is no sensible or responsible alternative to this policy.
Those who call for even greater economies by the state in a period of weak economic activity do so at the risk of jeopardizing the justified interests of citizens.
We were indeed faced with this alternative: beyond the economies agreed upon in consumption expenditure and subsidies, we could have made cuts across-the-board in all ministries. However, that would have been the opposite of fair.
For, more than anything, we need investments in the opportunities of the future. We do not want a state which is impoverished and incapable of acting.
Only a small minority of the powerful and privileged can afford such a state.
However, the general public has a right to a state which promotes the common good, opens up opportunities and ensures justice.
For justice is much more than the demand that everyone make sacrifices.
Ensuring that opportunities are available to all is more important today than the distribution of ever scarcer public resources.
Our political generation is faced with the historic task of defining and creating justice in the age of globalization.
For this reason, the Federal Government is calling for a genuine partnership in responsibility.
Together we can overcome the current difficulties and, far beyond this legislative period, harness the forces and abilities of our country to work towards a life for today’s and future generations which is richer in every respect.
The prime task in this new legislative period is to carry out major reforms in the labour market.
Not only is the unemployment rate too high in Germany. We also have too much overtime, too much moonlighting and too many vacancies which cannot be filled.
With the proposals made by the Hartz Commission, it has been possible after more than thirty years of continual discussion on reforms in the labour market to finally put forward a convincing overall plan.
These proposals, which we will implement in full, will bring about the greatest labour market reform in the Federal Republic’s history.
I believe we should take this opportunity to thank Peter Hartz and all members of the Commission for their great work and their excellent results.
These reforms will not simply enable us to get unemployed people back at work more quickly and more efficiently. Rather, we will also open up new employment opportunities in the service sector.
We will create new opportunities for self-employment and setting up new businesses, even when the entrepreneur’s own capital is limited.
We will ensure a new degree of flexibility by establishing personnel service agencies and give people a chance to prove themselves in the job market on a temporary basis. The long-term unemployed in particular will finally be given a chance to work again.
With this reform we are making legal forms of work, especially in the service sector, more attractive, thus lessening the temptation to work illegally.
Let me make it quite clear that moonlighting is not a trivial offence. Rather, it represents the abuse of our social security system and we intend, and indeed must, fight it vigorously.
This reform is not about a misunderstood “opening” of the labour market by rashly curtailing employees’ rights. We want to see the opening of new opportunities.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The proposals put forward by the Hartz Commission and the decision by the Federal Government to implement its recommendations in full also demonstrates something which goes far beyond the urgent reform of the labour market.
For it has been shown here that even in powerfully entrenched structures the necessary changes are possible and feasible – if everyone involved does everything they can to shoulder the joint responsibility.
This major reform project has a central message which must become our maxim in the years ahead:
We must stop always asking what is not possible. Rather, we should ask what each and every one of us can do to ensure that anything is possible!
The Federal Government is embarking upon its new mandate determined to carry on renewing our country. Innovations such as the ones we intend to implement require patience and stamina.
Even if the reform course is sometimes arduous we will continue to travel along this path.
Important steps are spelled out for many spheres in the coalition agreement. Admittedly, some of them are modest steps. But we are heading in the right direction.
During the previous legislative period we created the conditions for a policy of justice, renewal and sustainability.
During the next four years we will continue to resolutely implement these policies in day-to-day life. For this is the yardstick by which we measure our policies: they must prove their worth in people’s daily lives.
Much of what we have begun or are now beginning will have an impact beyond the next four years.
Some things, that is to say some of the changes in the social security system, in the financial structure, in the building of new economic strength will only take full effect after some time.
We have a great opportunity to begin shaping the entire decade. We have a chance to answer the question as to how justice can be created and safeguarded in the age of globalization and structural changes, both in the economy and in the world of work.
That is why our prime task must be to make Germany a truly child-friendly country. A country in which children are so well cared for that they can learn while playing and not forget how to play while learning.
We will ensure that women really can make a choice between family and career. Bringing up children must not be regarded as a burden or even as a risk.
We will create the conditions which will make raising children a natural and happy part of a fulfilled life.
We want to be a country which grants its children every opportunity to grow up in a safe environment, with healthy and affordable food. And one which guarantees everyone a first-class education and vocational training.
For this alone, we will be making available four billion euro during the next four years for the establishment of 10,000 new all-day schools.
We want to ensure that Germany is among the leaders in education in ten years’ time.
Just as access to first-class education opportunities should not depend on parents’ income, education opportunities should not be determined by where one lives.
Together with the Länder, we will therefore elaborate a core list of national education and performance standards. Finally, we must grant schools greater autonomy and encourage them to be more competitive and to show more responsibility for their own affairs.
We intend to pass a bill envisaging a day-care level of 20 per cent for children up to the age of three.
We will finance this by lessening the burden on municipalities through reform of the labour market – another example which shows that justice and investments in the future can be achieved if we orient our policies as a whole towards these aims.
We will strengthen and extend our democracy based on the rule of law. We will further develop and promote the participation of the citizens in democratic processes. That is why we maintain our goal of introducing popular initiatives, petitions for referenda and referenda themselves at federal level.
We are committed to a comprehensive integration policy against any exclusion of social, ethnic, religious or cultural groups and minorities.
We understand integration neither as forcible assimilation nor as acceptance of parallel societies. For us, integration is complete participation in the opportunities and duties of our society.
Immigration that is steered will increase the future opportunities of all people in Germany and offer those who come to us a safe perspective for the future. This includes the offer, but also the obligation to integrate.
Catching up on the integration of foreigners already living in Germany is of crucial importance.
At the same time we will be consistent in enforcing the departure of those not authorized to stay.
We will use a comprehensive integration policy to correct the shortfalls of earlier decades.
We will create a country in which the people are at the centre of all social and political decisions.
Thus we are strengthening consumer protection above and beyond food safety and are continuing our modern family policy – so that people can live how they want rather than having ideologists prescribe how they ought to live.
However, we have not forgotten that more growth and more production do not automatically mean more freedom for the individual.
For us quality of life is more than living standards, more than levels of consumption or income. Quality of life embraces the whole spectrum of people’s lives in our country. Quality of life is linked to freedom.
Freedom means freedom from fear and want. But it also means freedom to realize quite personal life plans. We do not reduce freedom to economic freedoms.
Freedom for us means that every individual is to have the chance to lead a life based on self-determination and responsibility.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We want to be a country that maintains and extends its leading position in environmental and climate protection, in research and technology.
We are creating new cohesion based on freedom, self-determination and good neighbourliness.
We want a new public spirit and a state that makes available public goods such as health, security and mobility without trying to govern the very lives of the people.
Therefore we do not simply need either “less” or “more” state – rather we need above all an efficient state that is geared to the interests and needs of the citizens and that gives the right impetus in economic and social policy.
We need an integrated economic and labour market policy to strengthen the confidence that citizens and businesses have in the future of our country and to boost domestic demand and investment.
This policy is based on five pillars:
– Strategic investment in education and research, infrastructure, for families and to make it easier to combine a career and a family, as well as for ecological renewal.
– Continuation of budgetary consolidation and savings on public consumption expenditure and subsidies.
– Easing people’s burden of taxes and contributions in the long term.
– Structural reform on the labour market and for pensions and health to make the social security systems fit for the future and to permanently lower non-wage costs.
– Reduction of unnecessary bureaucracy. In the sphere of the Federal Ministry of Finance alone, we will do away with up to 20,000 provisions that make living and conducting business in our country more complicated.
Germany is a country with fantastic economic potential and enormous forces for growth.
Our position on the world market as the world’s number two for exports, the level of training of our employees, the many different procedures and patents developed here in Germany and our good infrastructure are strengths that we have to develop further to be able to hold our own, also in times of a sluggish global economy.
We want a new culture of economic independence and a new boost in business start-ups.
Our promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises is integral here. Anyone seeking a way out of unemployment by setting up alone will receive support.
In the eastern German Länder we will add to the process of establishing innovative regional networks (the so-called InnoRegio Process) with newly developed promotion measures on setting up businesses.
We will promote the development of a new role for small and medium-sized businesses in the services sector and systematically improve the conditions for small service companies.
With the new Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan, we will make progress on reconstruction in the east and extension in the west. We will simplify the planning stage for construction projects and speed up investment.
On the basis of the Solidarity Pact II which guarantees planning security until 2019, we will push ahead with economic development in the eastern German Länder.
East Germany has to be better integrated into supraregional and international division of labour; we place a particular focus here on promoting direct investment in the eastern German Länder and regions.
We do not need a dreadful terrorist threat whose relevance is constantly being highlighted these days to recognize:
In our one world, security has for quite some time not been possible using only national measures, rather only through international cooperation.
But even at national level, in our own society, security is not just a matter for the police, judiciary and military.
The Federal Government lobbied at an early stage at both national and international level for an extended security concept. This includes safety from bodily harm, from war and crime.
But also material, social and cultural security as reassurance of one’s own identity. And not least, the security of the law and protection from disease and risks.
Only a society that can comprehensively provide security in this way is in a position to engage in good neighbourliness and peaceful cooperation in dealings with the outside world, but also in the necessary changes and reforms at home.
The demographic trend of our population cannot for example fail to have consequences for the structure of our social security systems.
Medical advances and increased quality of life have changed our society for the better, increased life expectancy and made more and more illnesses treatable.
But when an ever smaller section of society has to make the contributions for the health insurance funds whose services in the health and pensions sector are used by an ever larger number, then this threatens the long-term functioning of the caring society.
The Federal Government is doing all it can to secure the high level of medical care in our country and to make sure it stays open to all.
But we will only be able to continue to use this efficient health service for the good of the people if we engage in re-structuring, open up the systems and effectively tap the abundant reserves available.
We do not want two-tier medicine. What we need is more responsibility and more competition in the system. More emphasis on prevention and more cooperation between health funds, patients, doctors, hospitals and health centres.
We will strengthen the role of the patients by granting them more rights and improving protective measures. Because we want informed patients who can be actively involved in safeguarding and nurturing their health.
In pension policy we have launched an additional funded pension system to make the security system fit for the future.
We will continue along the road to more responsibility and more competition that we have mapped out for pensions with the establishment of the second pillar so that we can make pensions secure and the contributions affordable.
We will reform both the health and pension systems the same way we removed blockades and made many innovative steps in the Hartz Commission.
In the health system we expect all those involved to focus entirely on the common goals: making available what is medically necessary, using resources efficiently and easing the burden on labour costs.
Here we follow our principle: social security through solidarity and responsibility means both opportunity and responsibility in all fields.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Alongside social security, domestic security is an essential condition for freedom. Thus we have always emphasized that there can be no contradiction between security and civil rights. We understand security as a civil right.
Security as a civil right can only be guaranteed through the interplay of three key elements: an efficient, well-equipped and citizen-friendly police force; developed community spirit and active civil courage as well as an independent judiciary embedded in the rule of law.
The Federal Government remains committed to this concept. We will improve European cooperation in the fight against organized crime.
In criminal proceedings, we are increasing the rights of the victims of crime. We will further develop the penal provisions against sexual abuse, particularly of children.
Parallel to this we will continue the reform of social policy. For the Federal Government we are led by the ever-present principle of the equality and equal treatment of women and men.
We reacted comprehensively and quickly to the new threat situation after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.
By the middle of the legislative period, we will further adapt anti-terrorism legislation in accordance with the new needs. We will refine and employ modern methods to establish identities and solve crimes.
The “extended security concept” is also a central theme of the Federal Government in foreign, security and development policy.
We are continuing the policy of good neighbourliness and are shouldering the responsibility that is rooted in Germany’s political and geographical position at the heart of Europe, as a partner in the North Atlantic Alliance and the community of values for freedom, human rights, democracy and justice.
The foreign and security policy challenges can be illustrated using two dates:
With 9 November 1989, Germany’s role in the world changed in the long term.
And 11 September 2001 dramatically changed the security of the world as a whole.
With almost 10,000 soldiers, Germany is today the largest provider of troops for international missions after the US.
And the fight against international terrorism, a fight that is far from over, will continue to demand just as substantial an input as our long-term security and reconstruction commitments in the Balkans.
At the same time, the Federal Armed Forces are in the midst of the most radical reform process in their history aiming to make them fit for the complex tasks of today and tomorrow.
The Federal Government expresses its sincere gratitude to the soldiers for their professional commitment in the face of this considerable burden.
They quite rightly enjoy the deep trust of the people for whom they embody the hope of peace and security, be it in Kabul, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo or Georgia.
To continue the reform of our armed forces we have to analyze the entire spectrum of tasks of the Federal Armed Forces against the backdrop of today’s security policy situation and be ready to draw the necessary conclusions.
This also requires a comprehensive examination of what we really need in terms of equipment and personnel.
By the end of the parliamentary term, we will examine whether further structural changes or an amendment to the armed forces legislation are necessary.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Even though, since regaining our national unity and sovereignty we have repeatedly proved our now wholly natural readiness also, where necessary, to make military contributions to guarantee peace and security, the Federal Government is very much aware that:
Today, it is more difficult than ever to establish security by military means – not to mention by military means alone.
Those wanting to create and maintain security must, on the one hand, fight violence with determination.
But, on the other hand, they have to bring peace to the environment where violence emerges: by preventive conflict resolution, by creating social and ecological security, by economic cooperation and by making a stance for human and minority rights.
The Federal Government remains dedicated to such a preventive and broad-based foreign and security policy.
It was not just through the attacks on New York, Washington, Djerba, Bali and most recently Moscow that we had to painfully learn that the modernization and integration processes of today’s world are neither peaceful by definition nor do they lead automatically to more freedom and democracy.
This makes our commitment all the greater not just to accept the process of globalization but also to actively work on giving it the political shape.
Particularly with accelerated developments taking place in different timeframes, security requires that we keep endeavouring to bring about a balance of interests and a more just distribution of the profits of globalization.
In this ever more interconnected world, we will not be able to create security if we permit injustice, oppression and under-development to fester.
To counter the new danger presented by the “privatized use of force” by warlords, criminals and terrorists we are forming international alliances against terrorism and disfranchisement.
We want to strengthen the monopoly on the use of force by strong, legitimized international institutions, above all the United Nations. We will reaffirm this through our participation in the UN Security Council and our Presidency of it, which we will assume in our turn.
Aware of its international responsibility, the Federal Government calls for the globalization of the markets to be accompanied by the globalization of human rights and social justice.
With this in mind, we showed our commitment, most recently at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, to the systematic eradication of poverty, the opening of the world markets, and global action for climate protection and the ecological use of energy.
We have secured the basis of funding for development and will realize the target of 0.33% for development cooperation by the year 2006.
Germany’s role in asserting universal values and living up to our international responsibility continues to be determined by our staunch commitment to our alliances, our role in the European Union and our friendship with the United States of America.
The transatlantic relationship, which is based on solidarity between free democracies and on our deeply felt gratitude for the commitment demonstrated by the United States in the victory over Nazi barbarism and the restoration of freedom and democracy in Germany, is of strategic importance and a matter of principle.
This relationship is reflected in a host of political, economic, cultural and civic contacts and friendships.
This does not however exclude differences of opinion on economic and political questions. Wherever these arise, we will discuss them objectively and in a spirit of amicable cooperation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Federal Government has always made it clear that Germany considers a continued commitment to operation Enduring Freedom and the continuation and strengthening of international coalitions against terrorism to be the priorities in combating international terrorism.
We know that the Near and Middle East in particular urgently need hope and tangible progress towards a lasting and just peace.
The Federal Government has thus worked intensively for an end to the lethal spiral of terror and violence in Israel and Palestine.
We agree with our European and American partners that peace in the Middle East can only be achieved by ending the violence and by Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in two independent states, recognized within secure borders.
Such a solution must be reached by negotiation.
As regards the danger presented by weapons of mass destruction, we have offered our technical support, personnel and assistance in kind in order to do all we can to support the UN arms inspectors on their mission in Iraq.
The region and the world as a whole need to know just what arms potential the regime in Iraq possesses. We need to know for certain that its weapons of mass destruction have been completely dismantled.
The Federal Government was quick to express its concern about the means chosen to reach this goal.
Developments since then, and the international debate, especially in the Security Council, have meant that there is now a chance that a military confrontation in the Gulf may yet be averted.
In this context I would like to state again that we insist upon the arms inspectors being granted unrestricted access to the arsenals of Saddam Hussein.
In view of the dangerous situation in the Middle East and the need to wage and win the fight against international terrorism on an even broader basis if possible, the Federal Government calls for the potential of international inspections to be fully exhausted.
An unwavering policy of disarmament under international supervision must remain the prime objective vis-à-vis Iraq and other trouble spots. We will not participate in a possible military attack on Iraq.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our policy for peace, human rights and security is and remains a policy in Europe, for Europe and from Europe. We will continue the policy of pursuing a partnership based on equality and friendship with Russia.
We would like to emphasize our solidarity with the Russian people in the face of brutal terrorist attacks, such as the one recently perpetrated in Moscow. At the same time, we urgently call for a political solution to the conflicts in Chechnya and the Caucasus.
This is also a central demand of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, which we aim to strengthen and build upon.
Last week’s Brussels European Council succeeded in establishing a viable basis for the enlargement of the European Union.
The key European project at the dawn of this century – the final victory over the painful division of Europe – can thus be successfully brought to a close.
We knew that we could only seize this historical opportunity if the member states of the “Europe of 15” were able to agree on a viable financial arrangement, above all for agriculture, before the end of the accession negotiations.
Achieved primarily with the help of our French friends, the Brussels compromise represents a solution that will take account of the need to limit the agricultural spending of the enlarged European Union, but which did not for a minute forget the historical implications.
Together with our partners we have successfully borne our joint responsibility to history and have laid the foundations that will ensure that in Europe, too, that which belongs together may grow together.
We will now be able to conclude the accession negotiations with ten countries from Central and Eastern Europe at the Copenhagen European Council in December.
We know that the deepening and enlargement of the European Union will offer Germany in particular great opportunities.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The story of the unification of Europe is a unique success story.
The process of economic integration with the establishment of the largest internal market of the world and the introduction of a single currency has, not least, helped overcome nationalism in Europe.
But Europe embodies much more than economic strength, efficiency, creativity and hard work.
Europe, which has always been defined not geographically but politically, represents a very specific culture and way of life.
A unique civilization and social model took root in Europe, one based on the ideas of the European Enlightenment and on participation as the driving force behind development.
This Europe, which so laboriously dragged itself out of its bloody past and into a free and peaceful present and future, has become a true community of shared values.
The European model that combines personal initiative and public spirit, individuality and solidarity, has proven its worth. It is a model that also provides optimum development opportunities in the age of globalization.
The European Union is the answer of the peoples of Europe to war and destruction. It is our answer to globalization and to the challenges presented by instability and terrorism.
However, the real problem with the European construct has become increasingly apparent in recent times. I am referring, of course, to the division of competence.
We must ensure that a European Union of 25 or more member states remains susceptible to political leadership.
Our goal is a strong, democratically legitimized European Union, capable of action, with comprehensible structures, which is characterized by its closeness to the citizens and its transparency.
We want to achieve this goal by the time the Intergovernmental Conference meets in 2004. With the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights adopted in Nice, an important element of a future European constitution is already in place.
The additional elements needed for the completion of a European constitution are being discussed by the European Convention chaired by the former French President, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.
The Federal Government is doing its utmost to support the work of the Convention. We will help prepare a comprehensive draft constitution for the Intergovernmental Conference.
This draft must include:
– a clearer division of competence between the member states and the European Union,
– the establishment of a strong yet politically accountable Commission, whose President is elected by the European Parliament,
– a European Parliament with significantly enhanced powers,
– a reformed Council, which should in principle take decisions by qualified majority,
– and improved Community cooperation on issues of internal and external security.
We will work on the forthcoming historic decisions and on the European constitution in close coordination with France.
For without France and Germany pulling in the same direction we will not be able to create a deepened and enlarged Europe of the citizens, the benefits of which are shared by all.
We want a new culture of independence and shared responsibility. We therefore encourage the further strengthening of a liberal and socially aware civil society.
I do, however, think that it is important to make one point clear: we do not want to strengthen civil society in order to release the state from its core responsibilities.
It is true that the state should not interfere in those areas that society can organize better itself. That is why we need less bureaucracy and less hierarchical thinking – not less “state”.
It is equally clear that an omnipresent welfare state that takes decisions away from the people concerned and increasingly seeks to impose on them its paternalistic view of what is best for them is not just unaffordable. It is ultimately also inefficient and inhumane.
That is why we are promoting individual responsibility and encouraging autonomy in society. Above all, the many thousand volunteers working on cultural, social and sports projects need more scope for action.
But we are not only encouraging people to take responsibility for the common good – we are also enjoining them to do so.
The wealth and creativity of our country are due in large part to our outstanding cultural achievements and opportunities.
Back in the previous legislative term, the Federal Government took steps to resume its dialogue with artists, intellectuals and those active in the cultural field.
The Office of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media has not just proven a blessing for culture, but also for our country as a whole.
In the Federal Government’s opinion, culture is not just a pleasant aside in the life of a society.
We know that security, identity and the ability to live in peace with one’s neighbours are to a considerable degree cultural achievements, that the arts and culture are important building blocks for a society of partnership and justice.
This is the goal that our cultural policy aims to achieve, both at home and in our foreign relations.
The task is clear: to push ahead with the renewal of Germany and to master the economic problems, to create new opportunities and a new level of justice, we need all the people at all levels to work together. We need a new climate of individual responsibility and entrepreneurial responsibility.
We are faced with the task of carrying out major reforms in the labour market, in education and training and in our social security systems. We are counting on the many thousand men and women who are active in these fields for they set the pace of change.
Wherever possible we will seek consensus with the key economic players, with citizens and social groups. But we will not allow the primacy of politics to be undermined.
However great the willingness to enter into dialogue, politics must have the last say: i.e. it is the Federal Government and its parliamentary majority that takes the decisions.
The question of whether our country is led by politicians or abandoned to powerful interest groups is crucial for our future.
A society whose government does not ensure that all opportunities are seized – and ensure that everyone has equal access to these opportunities – will collapse from within when buffeted by the forces of globalization.
It is thus the Government’s central task to ensure society’s cohesion and prosperity in times of external risk and uncertainty and of profound internal change.
The objective we must work towards is clear: a life more abundant in opportunities, with a greater abundance of jobs and forms of employment, services and markets, with a greater abundance of prospects, culture and security; and ultimately also a greater abundance of income and assets.
Together we will achieve this goal. Together we will create a future worth living for ourselves and our children.
Policy Statement by Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in the German Bundestag “Creating justice in the age of globalization – towards a partnership in responsibility”; Berlin, Tuesday, 29 October 2002, Translation of advance text